Rex kept alive with glitzy affair
Eight years ago, Rex Nettleford, artistic director of the National Dance Theatre Company (NDTC) and pro-vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, passed away. And although his time on earth is up, he continues to impact Jamaicans, their culture, and their academics through the work of The Rex Nettleford Foundation.
A full house turned out at the Little Theatre, St Andrew, on Tuesday to relive some of Nettleford's choreographic works while, at the same time, celebrating with two young Jamaicans, Nicholas McIntyre and Cushema Weir. The two were the recipients of the 2018 Rex Nettleford Foundation Cornwall College Award and the Rex Nettleford Hall Award.
The occasion was also used to honour Barry Moncrieffe, the NDTC's immediate past artistic director.
The evening's event, which was dubbed 'Remembering Rex', began with a brief welcome from the Rex Nettleford Foundation's chairman Ambassador Richard Bernal. Performances came from the NDTC dancers and the University Singers. Both groups showcased not only amazing talents and creativity, but also a knack for selecting appropriate pieces.
This was the case of the opening selection, the dynamically arranged Lift Every Voice and Sing performed by the smartly attired University Singers. Franklin Halliburton conducted.
A combined performance of The Lord's Prayer from Halliburton and NDTC's newly appointed artistic director, Marlon Simms, followed. Both were impressive in their respective disciplines.
The full choir returned with a showstopping rendition of Ave Maria, and subsequently delivered Seasons of Love (from the musical Rent). The singers ended their thrilling performance with Rocksteady Suite, arranged by Djenne Greaves and choreographed by Rex Nettleford.
The NDTC performed excerpts of Troy Powell's Unscathed, choreographed in 2015, and Nettleford's Tintinnabulum, choreographed in 1997. The dances were performed as homage to the company's late artistic director.
Nettleford's Kumina (1971) also seemed to serve as the ceremonial handing over of the artistic directorship of the NDTC to Simms. Simms danced the king, a role performed by Rex. The queen was danced by Keita-Marie Chamberlin, another indication of the passing of the guard to the present generation of dancers.